Friday, February 23, 2018

Big Machines: The Story of Virginia Lee Burton

Big Machines: The Story of Virginia Lee Burton. Sherri Duskey Rinker. 2017. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 48 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: This is Virginia Lee, but everyone in seaside Folly Cove simply calls her Jinnee. Anyone who meets Jinnee will tell you that she is quite magical.

Premise/plot: Big Machines is the story of how Virginia Lee Burton--artist, dancer, wife, MOTHER--came to create "magical" children's picture books. The author's note at the back of the book gives biographical background and context. The text of the picture book focuses on the how and the why. The how and the why largely involve her two sons, Michael and Aris. 
But for her sons, Aris and Michael, she makes the most wonderful things of all...the things they love best: BIG MACHINES. It begins with a line: black and rough. Then a squiggle...and a rub. As little Aris watches, a puff of smoke appears, clears, and then.... WHOOOoo oo oo! a whistle cries. "Do more! Do more!" Aris shouts in return.
My thoughts: I loved this one. I did. I loved the personal aspect of it. I loved seeing the process of creation. How a simple sketch of a 'big machine' becomes a character, then becomes a story, and then becomes a beloved icon. I loved how the illustrations show mother and son--or mother and sons--interacting with her illustrations. Her creations are life-size and "real."

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

1 comment:

Lois Tinúviel said...

I loved her books as a kid so this looks fascinating!